Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays when I discuss issues related to the kids.
I don’t know about your kids, but social media is a real challenge for mine. Oh, it’s not that they don’t know how to use it — They know how to use it quite well. The challenge is they often abuse it.
What do I mean by abuse? Well, as understanding as I try to be, I’m not okay with my child fighting with one of her best friends via text till three in the morning. Yes, I understand that their fights seem like the end of the world (they certainly feel that way) but it’s still not acceptable. And it’s alright that my child likes to play Minecraft, but it’s not right that they want to do it day and night. And of course, there is my TikTok-obsessed child.
Now to be honest with you, this was a problem before the pandemic. So I resorted to setting time limits on their Apple devices and putting codes so that they couldn’t get around the time limits except for (I don’t know about you) but sometimes, it seems more trouble than it’s worth. You spend so much time policing them. And why? Why is it necessary? I know you’re going to say or think things like, “Well, they’re pre-teens, they’re teens, they have no self-control.” And I agree to some degree, but to another, it’s like saying that they’re two! And if you’re not there to watch them, they’re gonna run onto oncoming traffic! They know better, don’t they?
I would certainly like to think that they do, but I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think it’s a case of knowing better. Think it’s a case of impulse and the teenage angst that they feel — they must stay in communication, they must resolve these issues that absolutely have no resolution because, oh my gosh, the friendship will end; the world will end and they will certainly perish in agony!
I have to be honest with you — I remember that I remember those feelings when I was their age, thinking that friendships, fights, were life-changing. Maybe they were, but I certainly don’t talk to those people anymore. And maybe that’s part of the problem. We moved so much when I was a teenager and I had such a dysfunctional family that I have a hard time relating to my very functional family’s kid problems. Which are so normal, you know? Like, not obeying their social media limits or not doing their homework on time. We do have a couple of medical issues but nothing that is life-crippling or, God forbid, life-ending. We have challenging health problems but really, nothing out of the norm. Nothing that many other families don’t face every day. So perhaps that’s the reason I find it so difficult to relate.
But today, it’s Sunday. I’m recording my podcast for next week and I found out that they hadn’t done their homework. Yes, we homeschool but instruction takes a very small amount of time when you have four kids and you’re trapped in a small condo. So they can do the work independently — which they’re very capable of; which they do most of the time but when they decide not to do it, they decide not to do it! And they always have a reason or an excuse.
Now what I find annoying about that is we have plenty of time on our hands right now! Why not get it done, and then, enjoy their social media? Because, let me tell you, right now I’m being awfully tolerant of how much time they spend on their social media because, well, we’re trapped inside! And other than a bike ride or walks in our empty complex (by the way, Emmy had the most beautiful experience today as she was biking through the complex — she bumped into a family of deer. Our complex backs up into a natural reserve, so she sent me videos of it and it was just so lovely! A few does, and a couple of Bambi’s. Thankfully, no daddy.). But the bottom line is there’s not a lot to do. So I get it. They want to spend time with their friends and the way to do it right now is through social media. But it does feel like it’s overtaking their lives.
Now how do you balance this out? I am trying to be gentler on this issue and allow them to spend more time on it but of course, I expect that in return, they will get their work done! Which of course, they don’t do. So are they abusing social media or are they abusing my kindness? Because this week has been a challenging week, let me tell you.
What is it that they’re thinking? And isn’t that the grand mystery? I have better communication with one than I have with the other two.
The other two are more reserved. But my tween girls are good girls. They have very interesting personalities and very interesting… interests. But somehow, when it comes to social media, I just can’t relate. I actually find that the longer we are in these lockdowns, the less I go on my social media.
Oh yeah, I go for the blog, do my thing, but I mean I don’t sit around seeing what my friends, my family is doing. It just feels weird! And I’m not sure why because I used to go on it on a daily basis so I could certainly appreciate my daughters wanting to do that. Of course, I never spent countless, mindless hours on social media that they do. I mean and I do also understand that they’re bored.
Despite the fact that I have a lot to do — you know, it seems that I’m always cooking, I’m always doing laundry, I’m always picking up on homeschooling, I’m doing the blog — I find that I’m bored! So if I’m bored, at 53 years of age, me, who’s an introvert, and enjoy reading, and enjoy writing, I can just imagine how bored they must be. So again, based on that, I find myself saying, “Hmmm… I should be gentle and I should be kinder, But there has to be a workable solution, isn’t there? I mean that’s the bottom line. We do what we need to do first, and then we do what we want to do second.
So despite the fact that I have no answers, I still don’t understand why they need to be on social media so much, whether that was before the pandemic or now during this pandemic and probably will continue after the lockdowns are over. I do know that they need to meet their responsibilities first.
Therefore, I think starting this week, what I’m going to do is remove their electronics from them until their homework and their chores are done. That seems to be the best way to avoid arguments.
Because after all, it’s nice to have a conversation with your child, and which is not just a one where I scream, you know what I mean? Not that I scream — they call it screaming — I speak very sternly. But the bottom line is it gets old. And I don’t think they realize how frustrating it can be for moms to be constantly yelling after them. They seem to think that we enjoy doing it, or that we do it for the sole purpose of harassing them, But it’s not! It’s draining! It just sucks the nice out of me! And I like being nice!
So I think that’s going to be my new approach. Let’s see how that works out. Let’s see if physically taking away their electronics does the trick. Because frankly, I’m sick and tired of dealing with the changing of the passwords, and the time monitoring (which periodically, the electronics change by themselves — they reset somehow every time there’s an update and I have to go back and redo it). I think I’m just going to go for the old fashioned solution — just remove it and check to see that their work is done, and when their work is done, then they can have it.
Now sounds like I have a solution right? But I’m sure that Emmi is going to come over and bat her eyes and explain to me why this is a cruel and unjust punishment. And Andy will be hysterical because well, she’s not talking to her friends; on TikTok; in Discord; and she’s not uploading her videos, and oh, my gosh! And Dora — Dora will complain as well because, well, she hasn’t uploaded her stuff to TikTok and she will give me the silent treatment because that’s what she does.
So the solution may actually be more trouble than it’s worth. And I do realize that somewhere along the line, they’re going to have to learn to set limits for themselves. Learn to do what needs to be done first before they do what they enjoy doing. I do understand that.
But twelve, going on thirteen, I’m not quite sure that we’re there yet. I think at least for a little while, I will go with the physical removal of the electronics. And I’m curious — what would you do? Would you reset password time limits, or would you remove the electronics and not give them back to them until their homework was done? What approach do you take to social media and electronics in your household? I would love to hear what works for you — or for that fact, what didn’t work for you.